The Exotics were part of a vibrant Nashville scene in the ’60s—so where’s our Nuggets

The other day I was listening to NPR while they were reviewing Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968, the umpteen-billionth volume in the seminal Nuggets series of garage rock compilations, and I got to thinking: Where the hell is the Nashville Nuggets? Nashville in the mid-'60s had a thriving underground of rock bands playing at parties, teen centers and clubs like The Hullabaloo, but where's the audio evidence, the lovingly compiled testament to this town's teen scene?

This has bothered me for years. So with original Music City garage stompers The Exotics playing at The Mercy Lounge this week, I figured it was time to enlist you, dear reader, to make this happen. In a city that puts so much of its collective experience on tape, somebody's got to have the goods hiding in their garage or attic. Somebody's got to have a key to the vault where Buddy Killen kept his demos, and somebody's got to have a killer collection of local singles from that era. The evidence is out there, we just need to pull it together.

The Exotics are the perfect example of this town's invisible garage rock scene. Sure, their recordings as backing band for local soul originators The Spidells are sought-after collectors items in the UK's Northern Soul scene, and their arrangement of "Find Out What's Happening" would eventually be covered by Elvis Presley, Tanya Tucker and Nancy Sinatra, but there's no recorded evidence that The Exotics ever existed. I saw them when they first reunited a few years ago, and they ripped face like a great garage band should—which makes the dearth of vintage recordings even more painful.

So I'm calling on you, denizens of Music City, to dig deep in your attics, basements and storage spaces (or those of your parents and grandparents). Be on the lookout for dusty, mislabeled reel-to-reel tapes, 45-rpm singles of unknown bands with a Nashville zip code, or lacquer masters for songs that were recorded but never properly released. All of this history is among us, and together we can preserve it and give it the spotlight it deserves.

Email music@nashvillescene.com.

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